In our house, there are certain signs that alert each of us to something going on in the other’s life. If my husband heard me tossing and turning or handling children during the night, he will have the coffee made before my eyelids finally push their way open. Likewise, if I know he’s had a rough day at work, I try to gather the troops and welcome him home with love, hot food, and if at all possible, keep the kids from fighting with each other.
Sometimes, though, the simple situations are more practical and less emotional. Not being a milk drinker myself, if we’re out of milk there will be an empty jug placed on the counter and I’ll know immediately to add it to the shopping list. If we’re out of shampoo, there will be a bottle out of place on the bathroom counter. Same goes for the kids when they stand at the fridge and not so politely yell “there’s nothing to eat!” and I look inside only to find they are right. Pickles, mustard, and maple syrup do not make for a delicious after school snack.
While I consider myself a “modern day” woman, I still have accepted the role of housekeeper and have control over my domain, even if it means that that control comes with the tasks of shopping, cooking, cleaning, and most dreadfully, laundry. Clean clothes are my downfall, simply because the act of laundry doing takes so long to complete, that by the time I’ve finished, the hampers are already full. Too frequently I have to finish laundry just to have the baskets free to begin again. It’s a dark, dark place in my life if I’m being honest.
My beloved husband knows this. He knows how much I despise it all—the carrying, sorting, washing and drying, folding and putting away. He knows how cranky it makes me, and even more, he knows that if he plain out tells me that I need to do laundry I might just snap.
So in a symbolic act of love, we have worked out a system to alert me that the time has come for me to saddle up and ride that horse into the dark cave of detergent and fabric softener. It comes in the form of none other than flannel undergarments.
We don’t know where the Cleveland Browns flannel boxer shorts came from, but at some point were a gift because my husband assures me that he would never purchase anything so warm. They are, in fact, so uncomfortable that he will wear every other pair that he owns before finally putting them on, which is the subtle clue that it’s time for me to empty the hamper.
“Are the Browns playing this afternoon?” he’ll say.
“Gotcha, dear,” I’ll reply. “Sorry about your day.”
It’s funny what women talk about when there are no men around. We don’t discuss sports or cars or the weather. We apparently talk about important things like our husband’s underwear, and in one recent conversation I learned that this laundry alert system that we’ve designed isn’t all that uncommon. Without potentially embarrassing anyone, let’s just say that a purple pair of briefs hangs locally in warning when one husband is running low, and another girlfriend of mine said she uses the alert system on herself.
“When I get down to the giant ones leftover from my pregnancy years, that’s my blaring reminder to start the laundry,” she admitted.
“I understand,” I said. “If it’s not December and I’m wearing my holiday undies, you know there are a few dozen load of laundry waiting for me at home.”
Therefore there is one heartbreaking conversation that goes on in my home:
“I know, honey. Merry Christmas.”
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